book tag · books · Tag

20 Questions Book Tag 📚

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I was in the writing mood and as I haven’t finished any of the books that i’m currently reading, I thought i’d do a tag. I really liked this one because it’s long (grab yourself a cup of tea) and there were questions that I hadn’t answered before.

Let’s do this! 😀

1. How many books is too many books in a series?

I personally think that trilogies are the perfect number in a series. If they’re longer, I either end up not finishing them – à la A Song of Ice and Fire or I just (even though i’ve bought the book) can’t bring myself to read on when an author decides to publish another book in the series several years later after saying that the third would be the last. e.g. The Shiver series by Maggie Steifvater, which I really enjoyed as a trilogy.

2. How do you feel about cliff-hangers?

I don’t mind them but I prefer when a story ends with closure.

3. Hardcopy or paperback?

Hmm, I usually buy paperbacks because their cheaper but when I do really like the look of a  hardback cover, i’ll buy them, but prettiness aside, they are very impractical, so paperback it is!

4. Favourite Book?

I don’t think I can pick just one, so i’m going to pick an old and a new favourite. Old: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë, it was the first classic I genuinely enjoyed and sparked my interest in gothic literature. New: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, I just loved how much I was able to connect to the main character, who is literally the opposite of who I am as a person.

5. Least Favourite Book?

I don’t really have any least favourite books, there are a few that I did not finish  because I didn’t like or connect with them but as of recent, i’d have to say The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. I had high expectations but I found most of it to be boring, tedious and the opposite of what I thought this adventure was going to be like… don’t even get me started on all the songs -_-

6. Love triangles, yes or no?

For the most part yes (shock? horror?) The ones that I have read were engaging enough for me to understand why they were introduced and why they were necessary (ish) to the plot. I also, in the same way you anticipate a mystery, like to wonder about which person will be chosen – it’s all in good fun.  I instead, hate watching them play out in films or TV shows because they always write the most generic and uninteresting love triangle story arcs.

7. The most recent book you just couldn’t finish?

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen.

8. A book you’re currently reading?

The Good Immigrant by Nikesh Shukla

9. Last book you recommended to someone?

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

10. Oldest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

Oroonoko by Aphra Behn, published in 1688.

11. Newest book you’ve read? (Publication date)

Quiet Power: Growing Up as an Introvert in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain, published in 2016.

12. Favourite author?

Probably J.K. Rowling / Robert Galbraith, because i’ve read and really enjoyed a lot of her work – It does help that she likes to write series of books.

13. Buying books or borrowing books?

I used to borrow books from the library a lot when I was younger but now definitely buying.

14. A book you dislike that everyone else seems to love?

Anything Jane Austen (except Northanger Abbey), i’m just not a fan of her writing style and her books are repetitive i.e. the goal is always marriage.

15. Bookmarks or dog-ears?

Bookmarks! Dog-ears are a no-no for me.

16. A book you can always re-read?

The Harry Potter series, other than that, i’m not really a big re-reader.

17. Can you read while hearing music?

I prefer silence but I listen to music when i’m on public transport or in a room where there are other distractions.

18. One POV or multiple POV’s?

It depends on the book. There are some stories where another POV really helps my understanding of the story and then there are other books where there are POVs of characters that I just don’t really care about and feel like they detract from the main characters arc.

19. Do you read a book in one sitting or over multiple days?

Over multiple days, I don’t like to rush through books, unless it’s really, really good.

20. A book you’ve read because of the cover?

I definitely used to when I was younger but recently, I can’t think of a book that i’ve read just because of the cover – for me the blurb is the most important thing.

 

Well that’s it for now, I really enjoyed answering these questions!
Would you have similar or completely different answers to mine? Let me know!

I tag any of you reading this who wants to give it a go, I highly recommend it!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Book Reviews · books · Literature

Oryx & Crake by Margaret Atwood: Book Review

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Oryx & Crake is simultaneously one of the most imaginative and intriguing books that i’ve read, however, despite this… I ended up not enjoying this book – and honestly I don’t think you’re supposed to.

The only thing I knew about this book was that it was written by the same author who’d written The Handmaiden’s Tale – and though I haven’t read the book, I became familiar with it because of how well its television adaptation was being received critically, I personally chose not to watch it because of how miserable it sounded, and to be honest i’m tired of consuming content containing unequivocal amounts of misogyny. 

Before I get into my review (Spoiler-free), here’s a brief synopsis:

SYNOPSIS: Published in 2003, Oryx & Crake is a post-apocalyptic work of speculative fiction about a man, once called Jimmy who now calls himself Snowman. He is presumably the last living human on earth and has been left in charge of a group of primitive human-like creatures called Crakers.

REVIEW: This story is essentially a cautionary tale about mans involvement and manipulation of nature. It explores some very dark and disturbing truths about people, systems and technology – some of which was rather uncomfortable to read about. The book starts of pretty slowly and during the first couple of chapters I began to question how reliable Snowman was as a narrator, the more i read the more I began to think about how much this book would have benefited from having multiple points of views, especially considering how detailed this story is.

“All it takes,” said Crake, “is the elimination of one generation. One generation of anything. Beetles, trees, microbes, scientists, speakers of French, whatever. Break the link in time between one generation and the next, and it’s game over forever.”

What I did like about this book was its originality and creativity – it’s thought-provoking, engaging and is very blunt about who these characters are as people. I would love to take a sneak-peek of Atwood’s notes on how she came up with some of the ideas for this story because it’s truly impressive. One thing that I really appreciated was how Atwood was able to name or briefly describe a scientific or abstract subject without making you feel as though you need to do further research on it – the context of the story is thankfully enough.

The romance aspect of the novel is both complex and controversial, I personally wouldn’t call it a romance, it read more as an obsessive, manipulative, ill-defined, but passionate relationship of sorts, that I still, as i’m typing this, can’t get my head around, which is why I again feel like this story needed multiple perspectives. Moreover, despite the exposition we get about why the world is the way it is when we meet Snowman, I found it difficult to understand the motivations of certain characters.

Overall, I enjoyed reading about this world – it’s imaginative but also realistic in the brutalist of ways that make you think about the many ‘what if’s’ about our own world which is what I enjoy most about the dystopian genre. If you’re like me and not a frequent reader of dystopian novels but want to read something different, i’d recommend giving Oryx and Crake a read. But know this, if you’re not familiar with Margaret Atwood’s work, know that this is not a story with a (generically) happy or hopeful ending.

3.9 / 5

P.S. I wouldn’t recommend this book for young readers.

health · Life · Lifestyle

We Need To Talk About Pre-Workout… N.O XPLODE – My crazy experience! 🏋🏾‍♀️

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‘BSN N.O. – XPLODE’ Review

I feel like it’s my duty to give you guys an in-depth review of this product because I wish someone out there had put this information out there for anyone who was thinking about trying this pre-workout. I’ve searched around the internet for anyone who may have had a similar experience to mine or had any feedback or comments on how their experience with this specific product was for them but for some reason the only reviews I was able to find about N.O Xplode, mostly talk about its ingredients and whether or not it gave them a good pump. Moreover, the majority of reviewers were men – which I think this product was primarily designed for.

Before I tried the product:

Figuring out what foods and/or drinks to take before a workout has since I began attending the gym a few years ago, been a struggle. For whatever reason, around half way into my workout I start to feel dizzy or close to being too tired to continue. As a result, i’ve tried a bunch of different things from fruit, ‘healthy’ snack bars, energy drinks, coffee, porridge and more until I eventually found that a bit of dark chocolate or granola with almond milk before working out gave me enough energy to complete my workout.

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In relation to my physique which I think is a contributing factor to how this product effected me, I weigh around (and this is a measurement taken from sometime toward the end of last year) – 66kg / 147lbs and i’m 5″7. My body type is slim/athletic with some extra body fat. Pretty much all the reviews I watched featured men and a few women who were at least twice my size (muscle-wise) and who were already super-fit, so off the bat I knew that this product would affect me more than it did them. There is no possible way that I can write this out in a way that I can fully or coherently explain the crap that my body went through from the moment that liquid touched my lips… but i’m going to try. My body literally exploded (pun untended)…

My Experience:

I’m going to list the effects this had on me over a period of around 2 hours.

  1. Shortly after drinking the pre-workout my lips began to tingle
  2. They began to tingle like crazy
  3. Then my face began to tingle
  4. And then the palms of my hands began to vigorously tingle – it felt more like itchy than tingly at this point.
  5. Instead of taking the bus to the gym which I sometimes do, I decided to walk because by this point I was physically incapable of remaining still.
  6. Once I arrived at the gym and the warm air hit me — MY ENTIRE BODY BEGAN TO TINGLE — I felt like my face had come down with a rash but after rushing into the changing room and checking my face – there was thankfully no rash!
  7. I then began to scramble out of my jacket and by now literally every single part of my body was uncomfortably tingling  and I mean EVERY single part!
  8. I had to take a moment on my own in a bathroom cubicle because I started to get nervous that I might have taken the product incorrectly my heart was beating very quickly and I hadn’t even began to workout. After telling my self to suck it up because it was my decision to put that sachet into my system without doing much research – I left the cubicle and went to begin my workout… and appear as normal as I could.
  9. All I had to do was wait until the pre-workout had run its course and i’d be fine.
  10. I’m around 15 minutes into my treadmill session and I realise that anytime I slow down the intense tingling comes back and so I continue my session, running longer and at a speed that I don’t usually run on – not because I feel more energised but because I want the tingling to stop.
  11. Overall, I was in the gym for almost 2 hours.
Does it do what it says on the packet?

Energy – Was at a 10, despite my mini panic attack, I didn’t have that tired feeling I usually get half way into my workout which was good- I think the caffeine concentration had a lot to do with this.

Performance – Was very good, (8.5) I ran a lot longer and I did both longer reps and more sets. However, I definitely over-exerted my body and my muscles felt the workout for days.

Focus When I wasn’t focusing on what was happening to my body i’d say it was pretty good – a solid 8.

Taste Wasn’t great but bearable, leaves an after-taste.

Side-effects – The one thing that I found incredibly strange was the lack of sweat; I barely used my sweat towel – which I regularly use especially after I’ve been on the treadmill. The tingly/itchy sensation was insanely uncomfortable, almost unbearable. When I remained stationary, the tingle went up to a 12, when moving/working out, it dipped to around a 7. The tingling only began to decrease around 2 hours after I first began to feel it, and it completely went away I guess after I fell asleep (I prefer to workout in the evening). Lastly, my increased heart rate lasted just over an hour after I drank the pre-workout.

The Next Day – I felt mildly hungover. I ate a good breakfast after I woke up and I was pretty much back to normal.

Would I recommend this product?

If you’re a beginner, absolutely not. I think this is for near-seasoned gym junkies and athletes and as an intermediate gym-goer, I personally, wouldn’t use this product again. Despite the results, I definitely over-exerted my body and that insane tingly/itchy sensation I had throughout just (for me) isn’t worth the bother of using this as a pre-workout.

I hope this review of BSN N.O. Xplode helps someone out there who is thinking of trying out this particular pre-workout substance or that it reaches someone as naïve as I was who didn’t do enough research before buying this product. 

Overall: ★ ★

stay healthy

— Grace

Book Reviews · books · Literature

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry By Rachel Joyce: Book Review

SPOILER – FREE! 👞

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If somebody asks me to name a list of my favourite books, The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry will now be a book that I name.

SYNOPSIS: The story follows Harold Fry, a recently retired man who lives in a small English village with his wife  Maureen. One morning he receives a letter from an old acquaintance, Queenie Hennessy who is staying at a hospice and is writing to say goodbye. As he is on the way to post a reply, a chance encounter one that convinces him that he must deliver his message to her in person, leads Harold to begin his unlikely pilgrimage from one end of the country to the other to save her life.

REVIEW: I remember picking this book up last year, reading the blurb and liking it enough to buy and then placing it on my bookshelf and expecting it to remain there as a TBR (To Be Read) for whenever I felt like it was time to read admittedly it was very far down on my TBR list. However because I made the decision to read more books that I normally wouldn’t read, I thought this would be a perfect pick.

What I absolutely loved about this novel is that I was able to relate to a married, retired, sixty-something year old English man. Other than being born in the UK I have absolutely nothing in common with Harold Fry, yet through Joyce’s writing, she manages to effortlessly explore the most vulnerable sides of the human condition such as grief, love, faith, adolescence, aging, acceptance and so much more, which makes this story (at least for me) so relatable because it’s not just trying to get you to understand the character but also connect with the characters journey. Harold’s story is told alongside his wife, Maureen who left alone, is also forced to come to terms with her own life which serves as an interesting foil to Harold’s because of how differently the pilgrimage affects them both.

“People were buying milk, or filling their cars with petrol, or even posting letters. And what no one else knew was the appalling weight of the thing they were carrying inside. The superhuman effort it took sometimes to be normal, and a part of things that appeared both easy and everyday. The loneliness of that.”

Joyce chooses to tell this story through memory, the further Harold goes on his journey the more we learn about his life. It is told in such a way that when there are big reveals about his past, they resonate more because they’re being told through his own visceral, repressed memories and as a result, we get to know these characters on a far more personal level.

The only thing I didn’t initially like about this story was the ending. It wasn’t what I expected… it wasn’t the spectacle I was hoping for it to be  it was stark and realistic which I ended up appreciating because it is how the majority of the book is written.

It’s rare that a book leaves such a lasting impression on me, I am so glad I chose this book to read and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a light but impactful read. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry is truly a wonderful book.

4.9/5
book tag · books · Tag

Top Ten Tuesday – Favourite Book Quotes ✒

TopTen!

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature created by The Broke and The Bookish which has since moved to another wonderful blog – That Artsy Reader Girl. Each week features a different prompt where you come up with a list of ten books or ideas. This week’s Top Ten is Favourite Book Quotes!
I’m the type of person who underlines, highlights (shock, horror) or puts post-it notes on quotes that I like, think are funny, or in some way resonate with. There are many quotes that I love, but here are the 10 that I chose!

 

10. The truth is that no mind is much employed upon the present; recollection and anticipation fill up almost all our moments.
Samuel Johnson, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

9.Youth cannot know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty if they forget what it was to be young.
J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

8. “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations    

7. We live how we dream, alone.
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

6. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… Until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.
Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird

5.Any man who must say ‘I am the King’ is no true king at all.
George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

4. Wide acceptance of an idea is not proof of its validity.
Dan Brown, The Lost Symbol

3. Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.
―  J.K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

2. Fear cuts deeper than swords.
George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones 

1. “Crying does not indicate that you are weak. Since birth, it has always been a sign that you are alive.
Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre


As a bonus, i’d also like to feature one of THE greatest moments of dialogue in literary history …and that will always leave me chuckling every time I think about it:

“Do you remember me telling you we are practicing non-verbal spells, Potter?”
“Yes,” said Harry stiffly.
“Yes, sir.”
“There’s no need to call me “sir” Professor.”
The words had escaped him before he knew what he was saying.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

 

Are any of these your favourite quotes? 😀

Book Reviews · books

Stephen King’s, The Shining: Book Review

SPOILER – FREE!

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“Wendy? Darling? Light, of my life. I’m not gonna hurt ya. I’m just going to bash your brains in.” …
You're going to need a cup of tea for this one!

SYNOPSIS:
Danny is only five years old but in the words of old Hallorann he is a ‘Shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When he and his mother go to live with his father who has become caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, Danny’s visions grow frighteningly out of control. Somewhere, somehow, there is an evil force in the hotel – and that too is beginning to shine…

REVIEW:
When I first picked up this book to read, I wondered whether it could genuinely scare me. I didn’t just want to be creeped out, I wanted to actually feel scared – The blurb and the one-line reviews on its cover indicated that it would, so I kind of went in with a do your best attitude. I guess you’re now wondering whether The Shining is as scary as people say it is… did this book scare Grace?

The answer to that question is YES,  – This book is terrifying! I’ve read a number of horror stories in my time but none until this book has given me a nightmare. (Let’s hope I don’t have to change that last word into a plural)…

One of several things that I really enjoyed about this book was King’s writing. I’m one for simplicity when it comes to narrative styles and after some of the book sI’ve tried and failed to complete because of how convoluted its style was, The Shining was a breath of fresh air. This book contains some of the best character-building i’ve read in a book that doesn’t have a direct sequel. There’s a mundane quality about these characters which makes them feel7 – King makes sure he includes every little detail there is to know about these characters; the good, the bad, the ugly and the down-wright scary. There are no boundaries between the reader and the characters – a part of this is due to Danny’s shining abilities but another part is the way King wants you to truly understand why his characters are the way they are and why they respond to certain situations in the way that they do. Included in King’s detail-oriented descriptions is the big bad of the story – the Overlook Hotel; because of this, the Hotel too becomes a character and its presence lingers menacingly throughout the book. What ultimately sets this ‘haunted house’ apart from its Gothic counterparts is not only how it affects the characters physically but also how it deeply affects them psychologically.

As for what I didn’t like, The book is just short of 500 pages and though I mentioned that I liked Kings detailed descriptions, they did at times significantly slow the pace of the story and I found myself wanting to either skim through these moments or skip these pages entirely. They’re really just bits of information which are important to our understanding of this world and its characters but aren’t necessary when it comes to pushing the plot forward.

Overall, i’d say The Shining is one of the best books that i’ve read in years. It’s an almost excellent book – I don’t think I’ve been this glued to a book in a long time. I would definitely recommend The Shining to any one who wants to read a scary book or a book with intriguing characters or just a book with a solid plot.

4.6/ 5

 

P.S: I don;t think this is a spoiler but the “HEREEEEE’SS JOHNNYYYY!!” line which has for some reason become synonymous with The Shining (film) doesn’t exist in the book.

books · Literature

✨ January Book Haul! ✨ & February – ‘Femmeuary TBR’

January Book HaulP

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenplay by J.K. Rowling – I’ve watched the film and I think it’s about time I read the screenplay – which I’ve heard good things about!

Two Owls at Eton by Jonathan Franklin – I bought this in hope of attempting my book goals for the year. It’s non-fiction and it’s autobiographical.

Thirteen Guests by J. Jefferson Farjeon – I read one of Farjeon’s detective novels last year and though it wasn’t my favourite, I really enjoyed the plot and characters.

The Gunslinger by Stephen King – I really enjoyed my first venture into King’s writing with ‘The Shining’ so I bought this to hopefully continue the streak.
*Look out for my review on The Shining coming soon*

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – This book was on my To Buy list for the longest time, I hope it’s as good as people say it is.

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler – This book was one of the easiest to pick out, I love detective fiction and I don’t think I’ve read a detective/crime novel by an American author. *Hides face*

 

FEMMEUARY TBR

I never do TBRs because I prefer picking books to read at random – I feel like it’s more fun that way. A few days ago I came across Lauren and the Books YouTube channel and for the month of February she decided to read books written by women and pretty much consume all forms of entertainment created by women. A good chunk of the books that i’ve read in general and own are written by women but over the past year or so, the majority of what i’ve read has been written by men. So for this month, i’m going to take part in Lauren’s wonderful Femmeuary TBR challenge. My first book of the month will be Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which I bought back in October last year and am looking forward to finally reading!

harold fry

 

What book(s) will you be reading this month? 😀
Are any of you taking part in Femmeuary?